With new rail stations, bus lanes, fare policies, team members, construction projects, and Metro turning 30 (!) years old … it’s been a big, big year for us, to say the least. That’s why, as is tradition around here, we’ve curated a selection of the most memorable Metro moments of 2023. Read on for the highlights! – India and Steve
•In June, we opened the Regional Connector, a project that connected three light rail lines via 1.9-mile twin tunnels under downtown L.A. with three spiffy new underground stations. The idea dated back to the 1990s when planners envisioned connecting what the Blue Line to the new Gold Line that would head to Pasadena. That never happened due to lack of funding. The Regional Connector makes trips to and through DTLA faster with fewer transfers and the new stations are near dozens of popular destinations: think the Broad, MOCA, Disney Hall, Grand Central Market, Little Tokyo … and so much more.
•Did we mention that the artworks displayed in the new Regional Connector stations are jaw-droppingly beautiful? In 2016, eight artists were selected and commissioned to create site-specific, integrated artworks for the three new stations. According to the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, The Art Newspaper, and many, many others, they knocked it out of the park.
•In March, we launched our Metro Ambassadors pilot program. If you ride the system, you’ve probably seen the friendly green-shirted teams ready to greet you, answer questions, and report issues. Today, there are 330+ ambassadors roving our system, and they’re getting rave reviews. (Our Board recently voted to bring the program in-house and make it permanent). This program is part of a broader effort to improve public safety and increase visibility of staff. We’ve also increased the number of Transit Security Officers and homeless and mental health outreach personnel. And we continue to test programs to make stations cleaner and more welcoming, such as the changes implemented at Westlake / MacArthur Park station.
•Ridership continued to increase in 2023 — we’ve now had 12 straight months of year-over-year growth. We’re projecting that we’ll finish the year with about 285 million boardings on buses and trains –– an 11.5% increase over 2022. Interesting trend: ridership has continued to rebound more quickly on weekends — we’re approaching pre-pandemic levels — with telecommuting still impacting ridership on weekdays. It’s also a sign, we believe, that people like to use Metro to get around and avoid traffic and parking hassles on weekends. Owing to the pandemic, our ridership bottomed out in 2020 but since then we’ve been steadily increasing. Which leads to the next item…
•In late 2022 we restored our bus service to pre-pandemic levels based on our NextGen plan to revamp our bus system. This year we continued to boost service on our rail lines – with more frequent trains (running every 8 to 10 minutes) added to the B/D Lines in September and more trains for A, C, E and K Lines earlier this month. And, yes, we’re always monitoring ridership to see if service adjustments are needed.
•In 2023, we welcomed three new members to our Board of Directors — L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and L.A. Council Member Katy Yaroslavsky. On July 1, Mayor Bass began her term as Board Chair, succeeding outgoing Board Chair Ara Najarian.
•In July, we launched a new fare policy –– fare capping. What does that mean? In a nutshell, as long as you use a TAP card, you’ll never pay more than $5 per day or $18 over 7 days to ride no matter how many trips you take. The more you ride, the more you save.
•We have three rail projects under construction and we made significant progress on all of them this year.
•The LAX/Metro Transit Center station is well underway and is forecast to open in fall 2024. The station will serve the C and K Lines, local buses and be the transfer point between our system and the airport people mover to/from terminals. This is sure to be a game-changer and will give people an option to get to LAX without having to drive into the dreaded airport horseshoe.
•Section 1 of the Purple (D Line) Extension Project, which extends the D Line westwards from Wilshire/Western station in Koreatown to the future Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega station — in Beverly Hills — is projected to open in 2025.
•The A Line extension from Azusa to Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and Pomona is on track to open in 2025. In Pomona, riders will be able to easily transfer between Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line and the A Line — for better transit access between the Inland Empire and the Foothill Cities.
•We’re also gearing up to build the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail project, a 6.7-mile, 11 station light rail line that will connect dozens of communities in the San Fernando Valley. We scored a $600-million grant from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) back in January. Heavy construction of the southern segment is anticipated to break ground next year.
•Construction of the Rail to Rail ped/bike path between the K Line in Inglewood and the J and A Lines in South L.A. is also well underway.
•Metro’s Board selected Option 2 as our operating plan for the C and K Lines when they’re joined – which will happen when the LAX/Metro Transit Center station opens.
•We’ve added (and will continue to add) Bus Priority Lanes on some of our most congested arterial roads. This past year, we opened new ones on portions of Venice Boulevard. La Brea Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard.
•This isn’t really Los Angeles if we don’t get thrown a couple of curve balls. Last month, a fire under the 10 freeway in DTLA shut down a segment of the freeway and…mass regional gridlock didn’t occur. Our system provided an option for commuters that helped ease what otherwise could have been devastating traffic. In August, we also had a rare summer time tropical storm and the system kept chugging along for the most part, as it did through the massive rains of last winter.
•Due to high demand for transit service to Taylor Swift’s concerts across the country, we ran special shuttles to SoFi Stadium for her six August shows as well as extending rail service to 2 a.m. The Swifties applauded the efforts and we got a better idea of demand and what is required to run that kind of service for future events at SoFi. There were 150,000 more boardings on our rail system compared to the same time span in July — a 25% increase – and the bus shuttles had 30,000+ boardings.
— The Swift Society (@TheSwiftSociety) August 2, 2023
•Cyclists, pedestrians and skaters took over the 110 freeway for a Sunday morning in October – the first time that’s happened in 20 years – as part of an open streets event with heavy support from Metro. One of many events we helped fund this year, including CicLAvias. More open streets programs coming your way in 2024!
— Metro Los Angeles (@metrolosangeles) October 29, 2023
•The first of our new HR4000 subway cars was delivered to Metro last summer and we’re working to prepare them for service.
•As long as we’ve had this blog, riders have been asking for more public restrooms on the system. It’s not just a Metro issue – it’s a challenge everywhere. In October we launched a pilot program with Throne to test how new portable (but very nice) restrooms would fare at three locations. So far, so good –– they’ve been used over 12,000 times.
Did we miss something? What Metro project are YOU most excited about? Let us know in the comments!
Categories: Transportation News